Relief for swimmers as meet will finally go on behind closed doors

PETALING JAYA: After months of restless waiting, the national swimmers can finally let off steam with the Malaysian Open swimming championships allowed to proceed.

The meet will take place at the National Aquatic Centre in Bukit Jalil behind closed doors from tomorrow and will provide the chance for the swimmers to gauge their form after more than a year without any competition.

It will also be an Olympic qualifying meet for Tokyo Olympics hopefuls like Welson Sim and Khiew Hoe Yean.

For Welson, it is likely to be the only chance he has to try to improve on his Olympic Selection Time (OST) of 3:49.55 which he clocked for his silver medal run in the 400m freestyle at the Philippines SEA Games in 2019.

The SEA Games was the last major competition for the national swimmers before Covid-19 reared its ugly head around the world.

The Malaysian Open last year was cancelled because of the pandemic.

Malaysia Swimming secretary Mae Chen was relieved they managed to get the go-ahead from the National Security Council (MKN) and Youth and Sports Ministry to have at least one Olympic qualifying competition for the swimmers.

“We had to rearrange the dates a few times but we are thankful to MKN and the Youth and Sports Ministry for allowing us to hold the event.

“It will run under very strict SOP and will only be for the national swimmers who are already under quarantine at Bukit Jalil together with their coach Chris Martin.

“We will have 21 swimmers taking part and it’s going to be like a selection trial for them.

“We also got all the letters done for the officials involved and they will sign a pledge to stick to travel only between the venue and their homes as well as doing swab tests.

“In normal times, we will place them in a hotel but we are not able to because of the current MCO.”

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